The Kodiak Island Borough is exploring new ways to raise funds. In a recent meeting, they discussed a proposed tobacco tax. There’s been a decrease in state and federal funding to the borough, so they need to find other ways to generate revenue.
This tax would charge around $1 per pack of cigarettes and 45% of the wholesale price on all other tobacco products and e-cigarettes, according to the borough’s assessor Bill Roberts. He said this additional fee would not apply to medicinal products such as nicotine gum and patches.
The ordinance is based on policies other communities have enacted successfully. Roberts is confident that this resolution won’t pose any legal problems. He says this because the ordinance that inspired the proposed one had been brought up before the Alaska Supreme Court and was upheld.
It was repeatedly stated this tax is not a tobacco cessation measure. Assemblyman Kyle Crow understands how tobacco users may feel targeted by this tax since he’s a smoker. He says this tax is necessary, but it’s not the borough’s only plan to add revenue to the general fund.
“We’re looking at other options too. So we can try to spread the burden out as much as we can, as fair as we can to generate the funds that are necessary the essential government functions of the community.”
The assembly voted to advance this proposal to a public hearing at their next meeting. This will give community members a chance to give feedback on this proposed tax.